How to Safely Hang Holiday Lights and Protect Your Roof

How to safely hang Christmas lights and protect your roof

With the holiday season in full bloom, you may plan to decorate your home with a festive display. Whether you want a spooky Halloween, a charming Thanksgiving, or a showy Christmas, holiday lighting is attractive—as long as you hang those lights without damaging your roof.

Yes—roof damage can happen if you’re not careful, and you don’t want to end up with cracked shingles and broken gutters. Plus, getting atop your roof can be risky. Here’s how to keep yourself and your roof safe while decking the halls at your home.

1. Think in Terms of Safety First

Have you seen that quirky Christmas decoration that consists of a stuffed dummy attached to the eaves—making it look as if the homeowner is hanging on for dear life? In real life, no one wants that to happen.

Before you start hanging holiday lights, check all your equipment to make sure it’s stable (no shaky ladders!) and get a trusted buddy to assist you throughout the process.

2. Prep Everything Before Climbing the Ladder

Before you start carrying strings of lights up to your roof, check them first—because it’s dangerous to fiddle with them while you’re trying to hang on to the ladder.

Pro tips: Make sure the strings aren’t knotted or tangled. Plug them in to be sure they turn on. If light bulbs are broken or missing, replace them while you’re firmly on the ground. Don’t carry more than you can easily lift while on the ladder. (And have your installation buddy hold the ladder firmly in place while you’re on it!)

3. Say No to Staples

A staple gun might seem like an easy way to hang Christmas lights, but staples are actually a big no-no. They create holes in your shingles, allowing moisture to seep in and cause mold, mildew, and rot.

Also, it’s hard to remove staples later, leading to the risk of more damage. This lessens the overall life of your roof.

4. Use Plastic Clips, Zip Ties, or Magnet Lights

One safe way to attach traditional strings of lights to your home exterior is with plastic clips. These practical, affordable clips hold the wire strand and the bulb in place, without harming roof shingles or gutters. Zip ties are another option that works.

If you’re investing in new outdoor holiday décor, consider getting magnet lights. These attractive lights look like the traditional kind, but they attach magnetically to features of your exterior that are made of iron-based metal. One note of caution: they don’t work with aluminum or copper. So, test your gutters and eaves with a magnet first, to see if it sticks, before buying this type of lighting.

5. Leave Heavy, Bulky Items on the Lawn

Santa’s sleigh and reindeer can look cool, but decorations like this are often heavy—and that weight may not be good for your roof. Plus, dragging them into place can mar your roofing, making it more vulnerable to damage and moisture.

If you like big decorations, place them on your lawn instead, where they can safely remain without weakening your roof shingles.

6. Take Care of Your Gutters

Gutters are delicate, and they must be properly leveled, balanced, and secured in order to drain water properly. To avoid marring them, resist the urge to hang lighting from them. Attach lights to eaves instead.

And be careful to lean your ladder against your siding instead of your gutters, so that you don’t push parts of your drainage system out of place. Damage to your gutters can cause future problems for your home like ice dams or leaks.

7. Don’t Walk on the Roof

As you hang holiday lighting and other decorations, it can be tempting to walk across your roof. We recommend avoiding that. First of all, it’s all too easy to slip and fall.

And second, walking atop your roof can cause unwanted damage. Without proper equipment (including the right boots) and careful techniques, your roof shingles may be broken or weakened—and you won’t get the lasting, watertight performance you deserve.

Keep Your Home in Top Condition with a Roof Inspection from Smart Exteriors

As you prepare your home to shine during the holiday season, you may notice some signs of damage atop your roof, such as warped, worn or cracked shingles. Get the peace of mind you deserve about your home’s condition by having your roof inspected by the Kansas City roofing pros: Smart Exteriors.

Contact us to request a roof inspection to ensure your house is ready to withstand Kansas City’s harsh weather extremes. We’re here to serve you when you need us!